Greetings from the Principal!
The Falmouth Public Schools Administrative Council has been engaged this year in several book studies to enhance our professional capacity and create an ongoing dialogue about important issues that have a wide impact on the system. The first book we read this year has been a personal favorite of mine for many years and I was thrilled when our superintendent, Dr. Lori Duerr selected it. The book, Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times by Donald T. Philips takes a deep look into what made our 16th president such an effective administrator during one of the most difficult periods in our country’s history.
Thankfully, my job is a lot more manageable than what Mr. Lincoln faced when he took office. Still, studying his leadership style has helped to shape my own and, I hope, has had a positive impact on the school community here at North Falmouth. While I try to incorporate many aspects of Lincoln’s leadership style, one general strand stands above all and still surprises me with its power.
The beauty of this trait is that it doesn’t require complex planning or advanced technology. Instead, it is simply the willingness to be amongst people. Lincoln loved to share stories with his cabinet members to illustrate a point and he frequently was out of his office circulating amongst government officials and soldiers in the field. He also was an early adopter of the open-door policy, often meeting with scores of ordinary citizens each day. Lincoln sometimes referred to his time with people as “public opinion baths”, which he believed were necessary for gaining the knowledge for making successful decisions.
I was also lucky enough to see this kind of leadership in action personally and can attest to its effectiveness. Growing up, the president of my father’s company, Sippican, Inc., could often be seen all over the many buildings on the campus cheerfully talking with dozens of employees. What impressed many people the most was that he knew your name, your spouse’s name, and all of your children and would stop to ask about their lives. He would even stop to say hello to me anytime I saw him around town, whether I was with my father or not. In short, he cared. Thank you, Richard Arthur, for giving me this great lesson in leadership and being my modern Lincoln.
Studying the lives of exemplary people, in all fields, is a great education. I hope that our students take the time to explore the biography section of our libraries to find their own heroes and the wisdom they can provide. I recently borrowed a historical fiction called Lincoln and His Boys by Rosemary Wells to read to my son. Based upon primary source documents, this book paints a beautiful portrait of Lincoln not as a national leader, but as a loving father who was way ahead of his time when it came to parenting style (sometimes to the annoyance of his colleagues!) With some time off from school coming soon, I encourage everyone to share examples of people who have shaped your lives with your children.
I hope that you all enjoy this holiday season and upcoming vacation from school. All of our students should be very proud of their tremendous efforts during this first half of the school year. I look forward to seeing the heights they climb in 2019!